It's exciting to be part of a growing business. But growth can also be stressful, especially for the corporate marketing department. In fact, sometimes growth can cripple your business if you do not have the resources to adequately support it.
Perhaps you are a bank that has made an acquisition and you're now in the process of integrating many new branches into your organization. Or maybe you're a franchiser with dozens of new locations under construction or scores of new franchisees under contract.
With new locations come many more local representatives to support, potentially in new local markets. And then there's the need to localize your marketing so that messages resonate with local customers. So how do you efficiently and successfully deliver engaging localized marketing as your locations multiply?
Try these four tips to help minimize the growing pains as you scale your localized marketing efforts to fit your expanding business.
1. Clearly define your corporate brand standards
Reduce the time spent debating with your distributed organization about what is or is not brand-compliant: Document your brand standards. An approved brand style guide makes communicating your branding standards and requirements a snap.
When developing a brand style guide, keep in mind that it's not just about "what's in it." Although the the do's and don'ts are essential, how you describe the contents—using direct and simple language and clear visual examples—is critical to inspiring your local representatives to embrace and follow your rules and guidelines.
Consider including the following elements in your brand style guide:
- Description of your brand, including history, vision, and corporate personality
- Logo specs and usage examples
- Approved color palette, with exact hex codes for Web use and CMYK values and Pantone colors for printed items
- Image-use specs, including photography style that reflects your brand
- Approved fonts and typography, with clear rules on what fonts to use for specific purposes
- Templates, layouts, and grids for print and digital/online projects
- Writing style and voice, with details on the audiences for which you are writing
- Specs for signage and outdoor advertising
Having your brand style guide readily available for existing and new local representatives should reduce the number of incidents that need to be addressed. As your business is growing, you'll appreciate having fewer headaches for corporate marketing—and, more important, stronger local market presence for your brand.
2. Assess the tasks being performed by your team
How much localization is being performed by your corporate marketing team? Once your brand guidelines have been documented, it will become easier to develop standard templates. With templates in place, you can empower your local representatives—those who know the local customers best—to customize marketing materials.
Easily scale your corporate marketing assets by combining the power of automation with the impact of local customization to increase overall efficiency and engagement.
For example, develop templates for "grand opening" postcards by locking down the key messages, logos, and colors. Provide a variety of image options for matching the local demographic to be chosen at the local level. Enable your local representatives to specify location information and dates. Design once, and let the customization be executed in the field rather than tying up corporate resources.
You can similarly design e-newsletters that can be tailored to local markets. With branding and look and feel designed by your corporate team, you ensure consistent branding while enabling location information, contact names, and from address to be specified at the local level. You can also provide a choice of articles to be specified by your local representatives, ensuring the contents are relevant to their local audiences.
In addition to embracing templates, take a look at how much time senior team members spend on menial marketing tasks. Look for opportunities to reallocate the workload across entry-level staffers or business partners to greatly improve team productivity.
3. Review your current processes
According to McKinsey & Company, "It's important for a company to determine which processes will come under particular stress when it grows."
As the number of locations your marketing team supports multiplies, so will the number of requests you receive for localized marketing materials, approvals, marketing dollars, etc. What do these workflows entail? Are there opportunities to simplify processes? The way you've "always done it" may not fit the needs of your growing organization.
One approach to process improvement is to simplify through pre-emption. Are there patterns in the requests you receive from local representatives for updating marketing materials? Perhaps brochures are being designed that don't provide enough room for multiple locations to be listed. A simple design modification can eliminate those requests.
Also consider how you might streamline your approval processes. If you've successfully delivered a brand standards guide, perhaps you can authorize lower-level staffers to approve things like changes to an ad. With brand standards clearly documented, it's possible the same person can make the change and approve it.
In addition to processes related to external marketing communications, consider how your teams can refine internal processes. For example, are there requests from local representatives that require hardcopy forms to be received, approved, and filed? Consider digital alternatives that can expedite these requests and offer more practical archiving and recordkeeping.
Another area in distributed organizations that is often crying out for process improvement is the tracking and managing of local marketing spending. Are you using a patchwork of spreadsheets with input from multiple team members across your organization? How long does it take to reconcile? Ultimately, do senior executives have the data they need to make sound decisions, or are they spending time hunting down the data from alternate sources? Today's cloud-based solutions can help resolve those process issues related to local marketing budget management.
4. Identify opportunities for automation
When you experience rapid growth, it can be tempting to simplify your marketing approach by resorting to more generic messaging. However, when you restrict localization you can damage your relationship with your local representatives and hinder their success. You may instead want to try to simplify your processes and deploy marketing systems where it makes sense.
Automating marketing workflows can be an excellent solution for reducing time spent on menial tasks and optimizing processes. Marketing resource management and other automation systems are designed to streamline distributed marketing and enable customization at the local level.
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Cast an analytical eye on your marketing resources and processes, and you will likely discover you can scale your marketing and deliver localized, relevant messaging that can lead to continued growth for your business.